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Facts, Values, and Norms: Essays toward a Morality of Consequence (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy)

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521416979
ISBN-10: 0521416973
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Editorial Reviews

Review

'This is a book the serious ethicist should not be without, and I particularly recommend it for those interested in metaethics.' Milltown Studies

Book Description

Daily we struggle with the notions of why we do what we do and of assigning values to our actions. Although, it seems possible through experience to gain knowledge and understanding of such matters. Yet in contrast to the world of facts, values and morality seem insecure, easily influenced by illusion or ideology. How can objectivity and accuracy be applied to values and morality? Peter Railton's study reveals how naturalistically informed view of the world might incorporate objective values and moral knowledge.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Studies in Philosophy
  • Hardcover: 410 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (March 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521416973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521416979
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,875,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Ignacio Prado on May 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
This volume is great reading for any philosopher or student of philosophy who, like me, firmly believes that (1) a systematic inquiry into how we ought to live and what we owe to each other should be integrated with (2) an understanding of ourselves as thoroughly natural, social creatures whose behavior is explainable using standard scientific methods.

More concretely, Railton gives a great account of how to understand (1) the explanations we give for the patterns of change within societies' moral attitudes concerning different kinds of behavior, character traits, and/or public institutions as (2a) objective, natural explanations of the historical developments in question, rather than (2b)the product of subjective "projections" of value onto bare, valueless factual descriptions of how societies' moral norms evolve. For example, we explain (1) the fact that widespread intellectual opposition to slavery first appeared within the 18th Century empires of Britain and France as the product of (2a) the fact that slavery was "morally worse" in these countries' colonies during that period than in any other place or time in history and (2b) the fact people's moral sensibilities evolved in causal response to this natural moral fact (this is a crude schema, but Railton puts a quite a bit more meat on the causal mechanisms in question).

Railton's essays are much different than most ventures in "naturalized ethics," which read like a catalogue of inelegant applications of the data and explanatory models of the behavioral sciences to ethical questions.
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Format: Paperback
Gains three stars for combining serious consideration of ethical and meta-ethical issues with a completely naturalistic worldview and a genuine grappling with history and ideology. Loses two stars for being far, far too long-winded and using vague, colloquial terminology and appeals to intuition where a methodoological naturalist can and should appeal to the fruits of science.
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